Sunday 7th March 2021

One of the most familiar sounds at the Reedy Ditch in spring is the far crying rapid babbling trill of the Little Grebe. They’re often hidden but this one drifted out into view. Just behind it a newly arrived Chiffchaff flicked through the reed bed, my first of the year.

Little Grebe photo by Ian Williamson

16 Avocet were feeding along the river edge including a tagged individual wearing ‘AL’ on a yellow flag on its left leg. This bird was ringed as a chick here in June 2018. After that it was seen at various Hampshire sites, then it turned up at Oare Marshes in Kent in July 2020. It was last reported in August 2020 at Titchfield Haven by me! (I thought ‘AL’ seemed familiar) Being in its third year it is mature enough to breed for the first time.

In the hope of finding a Jack Snipe, and having failed ten times or more in the NP area, I decided to check out the damp area between the cottages and the sluice, near the weather station. After a couple of scans with the thermal camera I came across a very bright sharply defined oval shape. Excitedly I switched to binoculars and quickly found the Jack Snipe. Two broad golden stripes stood out, my best ever views. I took one extra step to improve the angle for a photo and it flushed. I had expected it to easily tolerate the distance, I’ll be more careful next time.

Reed Bunting

While stood near the sluice gate I heard a quiet and brief snatch of subsong, it sounded like a Sylvia warbler. Having cleaned up and amplified my sound recording it was obviously an early Blackcap. Our wintering Blackcaps move to Germany to breed and perhaps this bird was tuning up before heading across the channel.

Blackcap subsong

The first bumblebee of the year was a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). The queens are carrying eggs from last summer and they are looking for a place to nest, they often use a deserted mouse’s hole.

There was a pair and a single Slavonian Grebe on the sea and one of the pair was rapidly acquiring summer plumage. It was way too distant for anything other than a hideous record shot especially in the heat haze. The third bird joined the pair and together they all flew off towards the Isle of Wight, landing roughly half way out. Back at the Reedy Ditch I checked through the 1st winter Pied Wagtails looking for a White Wagtail and the Meadow Pipit flocks for a Water Pipit, no luck today.

1st Winter Pied Wagtail, Bar-tailed Godwit and Slavonian Grebe

As sunset approached the four Russian White-fronted Geese came in from P Shore, circled around catching the evening light on their undersides before landing at JV, presumably to roost. The first winter bird is now acquiring belly bars and a white blaze.

Russian White-fronted Geese

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